Google Plus Pulls a Facebook

On Wednesday of this week, Google Plus did what Facebook has been doing for years.  They got a redesign.  The social network that will hit one-year old in June, and has more than 170 million users, has put out their first major overhaul, with an eye towards being easier to use, nicer to look at, and maybe even more Facebook-like.

So, what’s new with the Plus?

Overall Desgin

Overall, they have added a bar on the left side, called a “dynamic ribbon”, which contains icons for the most used parts of GPlus, including, “Home”, “Profile”, “Explore”, “Hangouts”, “Photos”, “Circles”, and “Games”.  In addition, you can add or delete icons for parts of GPlus you don’t wish there (although they only move to the “More” button).

On the right side, just past your news stream, they still offer the “Trending on Google+, You May Know, and You Might Like”, and lots and lots of empty space, before reaching the new chat area (which was previously on the left side).  What’s with all the free space?  Only the GPlus designers know for sure, but speculation is that it is for features that will be added in the future.  In fact, this is the one part of the redesign that I take issue with.  I have a 24” monitor, and I’m looking at half of the screen being a subtle grey, which I find a bit boring.

Profile Pages

Taking a hint from the Facebook Timeline, GPlus’ new profile pages offer bigger photos, including a cover photo that can be customized, and offers the choice of one big picture (like Facebook) or five smaller photos (which was the standard GPlus photo line).  The difference in the cover photo here, however, is that GPlus requires pictures be at least 940×180 in size, whereas Facebook requires a picture that is 851×315 pixels in size.  In addition, your profile picture is on the right-side of the cover photo, so you won’t be able to use the exact same picture you are on Facebook.  Not surprising.  In fact, they even indicate that your updated profile will help you tell your story online, which is exactly what Facebook was looking to accomplish with their new cover photos.

Other Changes

Now, when viewing photos and videos in the news feed, they are bigger, and more prominent.  They have also added a new home for Hangout, GPlus’ use of live video to bring people together (you can video chat with up to 10 people at once).  There is now a dedicated Hangouts page, which will create even more opportunities to connect in person, including an updated list of invitations, quick access to every public hangout, and a billboard of popular hangouts.

So, is GPlus easier to use?  I actually think so.  After my previous post, What’s All the Plus About, I’ve been trying to use GPlus more, and I believe that some of these changes will make it easier, and more likely that I’ll spend even more time here.

What about you?  What do you like about the changes?  Dislike?  Will these changes make you more apt to give GooglePlus a closer look?  If so, make sure you circle me!

Author:

Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you.  He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line.  EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business.  Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.

Sources:

What’s All The Plus About?

That’s Google Plus to you and I, and I had been wondering what all the fuss was about Google Plus.  Been wondering about it for about one year (I actually started my first Google Plus account the week it began).  It is only within the last few weeks that I have been seeing the benefits to yet another social network (insert exasperated sigh here). But it took reading two books by greater minds than mine to make me see the light.  But I digress…

Google Plus is Google’s response to Facebook and Twitter, in fact many people liken G+ (as Google Plus is called) to a combination of the two behemoths.  As of now, there are between 60 and 80 million users  (they expect to hit 400 million by the end of 2012), with approximately 86 % male (as opposed to Pinterest which is 84% female). It is comprised of mostly “techie” people and social media types (60% identify themselves as web developers or software engineers).  And businesses have been able to create pages for only about 6 months.

So, why engage in yet another social network?  That was my exact question.  What would I get from G+ that I couldn’t get from Facebook and Twitter?

The answer is actually quite simple.

Great conversations.  With great minds.

After reading both What the Plus! Google Plus for the Rest of Us (amazon affiliate link), by Guy Kawasaki and Google Plus for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything (amazon affiliate link) by Chris Brogan, my attitude immediately changed.  Guy’s book is a perfect primer on how to start using G+ and how to set up and optimize your profile, and how to use and engage on G+ to its fullest.  I don’t think you will get a better beginner book than this one.  And Brogan’s book is a great outline on how to better put G+ to use to grow your business.  After all, he has completely abandoned Facebook in favor of G+.

So, what do they suggest?  Glad you asked.

Setting up your profile for success

The first place to start with any new social network is your profile.  It is the world’s first introduction to you and your personality.  It is the first thing I look at before I decide to like, follow, or circle you.  It tells me who you are and what I can expect from you on this platform.  And the best way to start this is with a picture.  Not a picture of an egg (the default Twitter icon), and not a picture of your dog.  A picture of you.  A decent picture of you.  One from the shoulders up, so that if we meet at an event, there is already that feeling of familiarity. Even think about using a similar picture throughout your entire social presence, so that if I follow you on twitter, and we are friends on Facebook, I know you are you.

About You

The next most important aspect of a G+ profile is the “about” section.  This is where you tell people who you are, where you work, how to contact you, and allows you to list websites and blogs that you write for.  In addition, you are given the opportunity to provide a headline, which is what people will see when they hover over your name within G+.

The about section is your chance for personality.  If you are a “reformed attorney,” say it.  If you like pie, tell us.  But tell us all about you.  There is nothing worse than a profile that indicates “male” and nothing more.  That tells me there is either nothing about you worth sharing or you don’t trust us enough to share with us.  It tells me you didn’t care enough about participating in G+ to take the time to fill out who you are.

Circle The Wagons

The final step in setting up your profile is the “circling”. What, you ask, is circling?  It’s “liking” and following all rolled into one.  It’s G+’s way of organizing your friends.  You create circles, and these circles are private (unless you choose to share them).  You can create circles based upon interest, people to follow, or even have one circle for “haters” if you wanted.  Go crazy.  Have as many as you want and name them anything.

Once you create your circles, you just have to move someone to a circle and you are following them.  You will see all of their updates in your “stream”. There is no requirement that they circle you back, although they most probably will.

And now the perfection of circles — you can share updates with only the people in specific circles, and you can prevent those people from restarting the content, and even commenting.  Yes, you can have small group discussions, just with. Specific circles.  And only those people will see it.

For example, let’s say your entire family is on G, and you have them in a circle called, “Family”.  You can plan your holiday dinner, by just sharing with your family circle.  And everyone in the circle can participate in real time.

Need to see each other face to face?  There’s an app for that.  G+ has something called “Hangouts” which allows you to video chat with up to 10 people at a time.  I know, WOW, right?

So, stop reading, and set up your Google Plus profile today and start circling all those great minds.  And don’t be afraid to engage them.  Both Chris Brogan and Guy Kawasaki respond on Google plus themselves.

Feel free to circle me on GooglePlus.  Are you using GooglePlus?  Finding success?  Not “seeing” it?  Let’s talk.

Author:

Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you.  He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line.  EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business.  Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.

Resources:

How to Use Google + — A Quick Guide and Thoughts on Google Plus

Google+ is Open to ALL and Google+ Leading Mobile Development

Today Google plus went live and open to everyone. With 20 million people engaging in the first three months in its trail stage, the Google+ platform now hopes to capture the masses.

While some writers like Robert over at BundlePost are betting against Google+ and predicating it to be the threat to Google, I am confident that Google has secured itself in the mobile and cloud space. This move by Google to capture mobile so early is what will have Google on top for a very long time. Google+ is in a safe place, capturing Social Media engagement and tailoring to the mobile trend.

Google Leading in the Mobile Space:

While I will give credit to Apple and Facetime for being the first to the mobile video market, the wifi limitation left users feeling like video chat was still more Sci-Fi then reality. In comes T-Mobile and 4G with the MyTouch4G, now you can use video even when not on a wifi signal, however the user interfaces are scattered and the experience doesn’t seem to capture the social feel to being in a room with a real person.

Google Hangout is introduced on PC and groups of people start to engage, converse and learn about each other in real time in a social setting that makes you rethink about your daily appearance.  One of the first things I noticed was the trend of individuals who previously relied on a single picture having to rethink the way there where dressed, the room there where in and what was behind them. Communication skills kicked back into hi swing as the most important communication indicator was alive and kicking, body language.

This move to get a fully functioning communication tool in the hands of the largest growing market in the world should be enough to secure Google’s future.

Android & G+

When you take a look at how Android has performed in market penetration, you can’t help but realize that Google is just getting started. It’s the little things that are setting Google apart from the competition, i.e. Google Cloud contacts from the release of the G1. Androids first phone was cloud ready as anyone who stored their contacts on their google account never again had to worry about lost phones, moving contacts to new phones etc. This was done without wires and with no need for a PC or software.

Flash, love it or hate it Android got it. You almost wonder why Apple left the door open like this, but Flash adopted by the Google into Android mobile technology was the nail that broke the growth rate of the iPhone and then later allowed Android devices to surpass iPads in global sales and users.

Google+ brought lots of new features, in addition to the latest Hangouts, the G+ app allowed you to upload videos and pictures in real time to the google+ account meaning that in addition to ease of sharing, you could lose your phone during the day and still save your memories, promo photos etc.

In the end, google is innovating for the future, not just today. That’s the sign of a strong company, one I am sure my grandkids will love and hate, long after Apple and Facebook are gone.

Sources:

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